Nightwood: Can you tell us a bit about your book in your own words?
Nick Thran: If It Gets Quiet Later On, I Will Make a Display attempts to think structurally and linguistically about my love of bookselling. It’s a compact display of different ideas, characters, and genres (essays beside stories beside poems), associative in its movements, with every piece loosely based around a bookshop or workshop of some kind. It’s a book meant to be rummaged through as much as read.
NW: Did anything surprise you during the process?
NT: I was surprised how, once giving myself over to a rather simple idea (I love making displays and should write about that), so many of the books I’d been reading and the writing I’d been labouring over had something to contribute to that simple idea. That a few years of writerly incoherence could resolve into something that made sense to put out there.
NW: From where did you write the majority of your book?
NT: The majority of this book was written from inside other books. And from my experiences with the work of painters, puppeteers, bookstore colleagues, etc.
NW: Is there a sense, memory or feeling that embodies your book?
NT: The sense, memory and feeling I’d like If It Gets Quiet to embody is of finding a copy of Vivian Gornick’s Approaching Eye Level in a bookstore, reading most of it outside in the parking lot, and understanding a bit more fully that writing really can accommodate every swerve, divergence, or niche.
NW: What are you up to these days?
NT: These days I’m working more full time at the bookstore, under new ownership. I’m in the latter stages of a new manuscript of poems. And I am finally, finally learning how to play the guitar.
If It Gets Quiet Later On, I Will Make a Display: Nick Thran’s volume of essays, stories and poems is a quietly powerful meditation on a life of reading, writing and bookselling. Thran, who returned to bookselling when he moved with his family to Fredericton, NB, captures the rare magic of reading communities. Here, the bookstore itself sits in the middle of an expanding root system, connecting lives, nurturing interests and stoking passions. It is a place for both private daydreaming and the small talk that staves off loneliness. And it is the fertile ground on which so many authors—including Thran—find the courage to write.
Nick Thran is the author of three collections of poems. His second collection, Earworm (Nightwood Editions, 2011), won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. After stops in Toronto, Victoria, New York, Calgary, Madrid and Montreal, he now lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Wolastoqiyik, where, in addition to writing, he works as an editor and bookseller.